Why Jaden Should Have Beaten Yugi at the End of Yu-Gi-Oh GX
Jaden Yuki In Yu-Gi-Oh GX
The second Yu-Gi-Oh anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh GX is often criticized for its atrocious english dub, but I maintain that the original sub offers a fun batch of duels throughout its lengthy run. Protagonist Jaden Yuki wields a variety of Elemental HERO monsters, and showcases his powers by defeating the vast majority of opponents he faces.
In the 180th and final episode of the series, "The True Graduation Duel! Judai VS The Legendary Duelist", present-time Yugi transports Jaden back in time to face his past self. The following confrontation results in one of Yu-Gi-Oh's most controversial matches. What actually happened, and who should have claimed victory? Examine both sides as we learn all about the debate-provoking finale of Yu-Gi-Oh GX! Naturally, GX spoilers follow.
Yugi vs Jaden—What Actually Happened
We'll examine the intricacies of the duel in a bit, but the end result of the match isn't made clear—the scene cuts to Jaden leaving for new horizons, thanking Yugi for helping him regain his enjoyment of dueling. However, a thorough analysis indicates that Yugi likely would have won. Jaden's hand only contains Winged Kuriboh, and he's up against a 5000-ATK Slifer the Sky Dragon with monsters whose ATK and abilities won't be enough to beat it. He's also got no set spells/traps, and even if he somehow did manage to inflict some damage, the Kuriboh in Yugi's hand could have negated a single blow.
Some fans point out that since Yugi (or more accurately, Atem, who Yugi eventually transformed into) special summoned Slifer, Jaden should have simply called off his final attack since Slifer's own effect sends it to the graveyard at the end phase if it was special summoned. However, these fans are mistaken—that's the real-life Slifer's ability, but the anime Slifer can stay fielded indefinitely even if special summoned. Additionally, the way Jaden talks in the last scene about getting stronger and facing Yugi again implies he lost. Seems like our fusion master couldn't quite stand against the King of Games—or can he? Let's examine the several reasons Jaden should have won this duel!
1. Jaden's Deck Has a Better Theme
Hold your pitchforks and torches—I'm not saying that the HERO structure exceeds the Dark Magician theme. It doesn't, especially with the modern supports Dark Magician has received. However, Yugi's deck as shown in the end of GX is a random mess of too many strategies that don't blend well. It slightly emphasizes Dark Magician, but tosses in things that really just don't belong. Alpha the Magnet Warrior, Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight, Kuriboh, Watapon, and Slifer himself just don't really combo off each other.
Remember, Yugi only managed to summon Slifer through a card's effect that he borrowed from Jaden, and under normal circumstances his Dark Renewal wouldn't have been able to revive his Egyptian God. I'm not saying Jaden doesn't have a few odd stragglers in his deck (especially in this duel—more on that later), but his overall theme of summoning and boosting fusion monsters remains consistent throughout his deck list.
2. Yugi Gets Way Too Lucky
I understand card games by nature have a luck element, and the anime tends to give the characters exactly what they need when they need it. However, a keen eye observes just how kind the writers were to Yugi (and less so to Jaden) during this bout. For instance, Yugi just happens to draw Swift Gaia the Fierce Knight (which, as we just mentioned, is a poor choice for his deck) when he has no other cards in hand. Of course, Gaia's effect revolves around this exact condition, letting Yugi summon it and make a comeback when Jaden corners him early on.
Then there's Watapon, Yugi's weak monster that lets him special summon it when it's added to his hand by an effect, which of course it is. Still not convinced? Remember that when Jaden plays Hero's Guild, which lets both players draw a card and summon it if it's a warrior-type monster, Jaden draws Neo-Spacian Grand Mole—one of the few non-warriors in his deck. Yugi of course draws Slifer, which also isn't warrior, but this lets him send it to his graveyard, ready to be revived later. And speaking of Hero's Guild and its numerous faults...
3. Jaden Uses Cards Clearly Intended to Help Yugi Win
Jaden's had 180 episodes to showcase his deck and the various cards he rotates in and out. You'd think the cards he plays in this contest would be familiar faces, and most are, but three new spells stand out as duds that are obviously just there to allow Yugi to make a comeback.
The aforementioned Hero's Guild is a luck-reliant effect that of course fails Jaden and aids Yugi, and it's something Jaden's never played before—because it stinks. Both players draw a card, can summon it if it's a warrior, and discard it otherwise. Why, after growing his deck, gradually gaining power, and showing off dozens of other cards that could have helped, incorporate such a lousy card at the very end? To help Yugi win.
Next is Code Change, which changes a monster's type to one its owner declares, which Jaden intended to use to actually make Hero's Guild work on his Grand Mole, but this ability ends up being stolen by Yugi and used to revive his Slifer by changing its type to fit the criteria of Dark Renewal. Jaden's deck not only didn't need Code Change, it ends up working against him and is yet another subtle tool to help grant Yugi an edge.
Finally, there's Impact Flip, yet another spell we've never seen Jaden use, an equip spell that makes the opponent discard when your monster inflicts damage. Jaden doesn't use a mill strategy (where reducing your opponent's deck could be beneficial)—this card actively works against Jaden, especially when it ends up sending Yugi's Archfiend of Gilfer to the graveyard (by the way, another lucky stroke on Yugi's part).
And if you thought these unwelcome anime-exclusive cards were bad, take a look at...
4. Yugi Uses Limited/Anime-Only Cards
To be fair, I'm not saying that Jaden doesn't benefit from anime-only effects; after all, he uses Subspace Battle, an impressive anime-only trait that helps him place three monsters from his deck to the graveyard. But as we just discussed, his other anime-exclusive units hinder more than help him, and aren't nearly as sinful as the anime-only boosts Yugi gets.
Yugi uses Mirror Force and Magic Cylinder, both impressive traps that were limited in 2008, when the episode debuted. Technically, since limited cards allow one per deck, this wasn't cheating, but without these almost-banned units (which the anime typically avoids using to prevent showing the same meta cards over and over), Jaden would have overtaken his foe early on. More than that, Yugi's Slifer seems to lack its go-to-graveyard when special summoned downside that balances it in real life.
As bad as these are, they can't compare to Card of Sanctity. In real-life, this card forces you to banish all other cards you control in your hand (and needs a minimum of one) to draw a mere two cards from your deck. In the anime, this card lets both players draw to six cards. This is an absolutely ridiculous effect that would be banned before you can say Blue-Eyes were it actually released, and it's just there to replenish Yugi's hand when it empties. Without this clearly-boosted ability, Yugi probably would have lost the same way many real-life duels end—by running out of cards.
5. Jaden Has Beaten Yugi's Deck Before
Much earlier in GX, Yugi faces Dimitri, a duelist who stole Yugi's deck. Not based his strategy around it, not copied his theme, but actually stole the literal cards that compose Yugi's ensemble. Some fans contend that facing Dimitri wasn't the same as facing Yugi despite the cards not changing, but I disagree—as long as Dimitri wielded Yugi's deck list to its full effect (which he did), Yugi couldn't have performed better himself. Unless you're argue he'd use special powers to draw whatever he needs—and if that's the case, you're making him invincible by default with protagonist armor.
Plus, this was before Jaden received the Neo-Spacians cards, meaning before even reaching his pinnacle, Jaden successfully overcame a duelist who played Yugi's deck as best as anyone with the cards could have.
Who do you think deserved the win?
Why Most Fans Want Yugi to Win
Even if I disagree, I understand the Yugi-won perspective. Yugi is the original protagonist, giving him many nostalgia points, and the original series had a much better English dub than GX's garbage translation. Thus, many remember Yugi as the competent King of Games while Jaden is that guy from the series not worth watching, so most fans simply want Yugi to win.
But Jaden supporters exist, especially ones who witnessed the far-superior English sub of GX, and by examining each point of Jaden's duel against Yugi, we see just how far the writers had to stretch to end with a seeming-advantage for Yugi. Had they provided Jaden the pro-level cards Yugi employed, not have given Jaden three random self-sabotaging spells, or not granted Yugi an absurdly-overpowered anime-exclusive like Cards of Sanctity, Jaden would have seized the victory.
But for now, as we eagerly await any future Yugi and Jaden anime appearances, cast your thoughts on the outcome above, and I welcome any (polite) debate in the comments below!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill